Last Sunday I returned to Antigua and Pandora after a break at home to get the place ready for the summer. It was a whirlwind of family visits and a sprint to get the gardens and lawn in shape.
Keeping both Pandora and our home in CT in good order is quite a handful but I have to say that it suits me just (well mostly) right. Summer in New England and winters in the Caribbean. That’s not to say that it’s easy maintaining two “homes” but so far, so good.
After focusing on our home in Ct for a few weeks, I can turn my attention to planning for my departure for Bermuda next week. It’s hard to believe that the winter cruising season has come and gone as it seems like only yesterday that I was focused on getting Pandora to Antigua and participating in the Salty Dawg Rally.
It’s been a busy few days with meetings to organize the arrival events for November when the fleet comes down here again.
Yesterday I was treated to a lunch with the Commissioner of the National Parks and Governor General of Antigua. I spend a good amount of time with Ann Marie of Parks but my only formal interaction with His Excellency, the Governor General was when he presented me with a medal last year. I was particularly touched that he was able to make time for lunch as he is scheduled to fly to London for the King’s coronation today. He is a very impressive guy and looks the part of someone who would report to a King.
Our lunch was very nice and took me back to that amazing day when Brenda and I were whisked off to St John to what turned out to be quite a ceremony. I wrote about that remarkable experience in this post.
In a week of events, I was also interviewed by the Antigua TV station about Salty Dawg this morning. I learned about the plan at lunch yesterday and was told to show up in the Dockyard at 6:45 AM. It was a great experience to be live on morning news and particularly fun to talk about Salty Dawg. As soon as I get a link to that show, I’ll post it.
As I sit here I’ll admit that I am a bit overwhelmed as I also have to focus on getting all the events, about a dozen, organized for the arrival of the Salty Dawg Rally to Antigua next November. Our numbers have been creeping up steadily over the years and I expect that we will have 100 boats, perhaps more, leaving the US with about 80 boats making landfall in Antigua next fall.
To make matters a bit more crazy, one of my two crew had to bail at the last minute due to health issues and finding someone with less than a week to go before departure is proving to be a bit challenging. Fingers crossed as I do have a few options that I am exploring.
Heading home with Pandora this year will be a landmark for me as I plan on stopping in Bermuda. The last time I was there marked my very first offshore run, perhaps 30 years ago when I helped a friend bring their boat back from the Bermuda Race. And here I am several decades later marking our 11th year as “snowbirds”.
It’s safe to say that there has been a lot of water “under the keel” since then with tens of thousands of miles and a lot of ground covered for me and Brenda.
Back when we began sailing with Brenda in the late 70s, in Highschool, I never envisioned that this last season would mark the beginning of our second decade of winters in tropical waters or that I’d be entering my second decade as a “retired person”. And, speaking of landmarks, this year marks the beginning of Brenda’s and my 6th decade together.
Anyway, there is a lot going on here in Antigua and last weekend marked the end of the Classic Yacht Regatta, an amazing event that brings together some of the most iconic classic sailing yachts for days of racing.
On Sunday I attended the awards ceremony and also afternoon tea and gig racing at the Admiral’s Inn.
A group of women with a decidedly British bent, put on quite a spread. This well dressed woman was clearly enjoying herself and a pastry. Setting aside the food, the highlight was a series of races featuring gigs from some of the classic yachts. There were hundreds of spectators and plenty of refreshments with a bit more horsepower than tea to keep everyone in high spirits. (pun intended)There was an endless series of heats with a variety of themes. Rowing with kids, rowing in costume, sculling and all in great spirit. It was a lot of fun to watch the action. And at the end of the races, a lovely sight at the dock. In the nearby dockyard, a forest of varnished masts. And an amazing number of beautifully maintained classic yachts. Some of the biggest boats that would normally participate were not in attendance due to scheduling conflicts but there were more entries than ever, I understand.
From the smallest Caribbean, beach built, Carriacou sloops. The classic Ticonderoga, known as Big Ti, was there, often referred to as one of the finest creations of L. Francis Herreshoff. And a particularly charming boat obviously from the North Sea. Note the long spar off of the transom. And the Blue Peter, built in Scotland in 1930. Learn more about her at this link. She is a remarkable yacht.
And this beauty, owned by Paul Deeth who’s parents sailed her around the world. Paul and his sister Astrid operate the Admiral’s Inn in Antigua and have been very helpful to me over the years in organizing arrival events for the rally.
Adix was the queen of the fleet at over 200′. She’s looks like an antique but was built in 1984. A remarkable yacht. Check her out here. There’s no shortage of beautiful boats to talk about but perhaps I’ll leave it at that for the moment.
So, where does this all leave me? As Pandora heads home from a winter season in the Caribbean, and the summer cruising season in the northeast begins, is the season beginning or ending?
For us I suppose that one could argue that it’s been an “endless summer” for the past decade and I am hopeful that our health will hold and that “winter” won’t kick in for at least a few more years.
For now, all I can think about is having a safe and smooth passage north for our next “summer”.
In the meantime, love hanging out here in Antigua and seeing all those amazing classics up close.
Hope I can fill that open crew slot in time. Wish me luck.